Future Leaders Celebrate at Annual Grenada Commencement Ceremony

Nearly 400 students from 32 countries congregated at Patrick Adams Hall on May 14 for the annual Commencement Ceremony in Grenada. While they have different backgrounds and come from all over the world, the students from all four SGU schools leave the University well equipped to serve as future leaders of their communities.


In the School of Arts and Sciences, more than 190 undergraduate degrees were conferred and included Bachelors of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BSc). Degrees were also conferred on over 80 School of Graduate Studies students from, 86 students from the School of Medicine, and one DVM graduate who joined the Grenada graduation. The remaining SOM and SVM 2016 classes will graduate at Lincoln Center in New York City next month.

“Go forth and lead. We’re expecting great things from you.” That was the message from keynote speaker, Mr. Jason Roberts MBE, former UK Premier League and international football striker. Mr. Roberts founded the Jason Roberts Foundation in 2007 as his family’s way of giving something back to society through sport, with the aim of supporting young people, celebrating diversity, and promoting respect across communities.

“The skills, knowledge and influence that you have acquired and will continue to acquire through your careers will have a great bearing not just on your own life but on the lives of others,” said Mr. Roberts. “I believe in the power of education and the value it brings to people’s lives. And unlike sport, your education is truly yours. You’ve earned it. And it will serve you for the remainder of your career and lives.”

In closing, he told the graduates that they “can change the world, and if your success can be measured by the impact of your work and the benefit you gave to society, then SGU, Grenada, the Caribbean, and the world will benefit.”

School of Arts and Sciences salutatorian Raluchukwu Attah reminded her fellow graduates that “the single most important tool you need to succeed is self confidence. Be confident in your abilities and avoid comparing your achievements to others. Rest assured that with determination, perseverance, and focus you will surely triumph.”

In addition to being keynote speaker, Mr. Roberts also received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from St. George’s University, along with fellow recipients Marion Greasley-Pierre, Executive Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Home and creator of the SGU MD student orphanage interaction program; and Bertha Pitt-Bonaparte, a well-respected and valued member of the SGU community who formed the SGU Chorale, which provides a platform for different groups with mutual passions for singing to come together in concert.

St. George’s University’s Gamma Kappa Chapter of the Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society also welcomed two surprise inductees at this year’s ceremony. Unbeknownst to them, Dr. Charles R. Modica, Chancellor, and Dr. Calum Macpherson, Vice Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, were inducted as honorary members for their local and global service in the area of public health. The Honor Society has inducted exemplary graduates and distinguished individuals since its establishment in 2012.

SGU Medical Student Helps Drive General Surgery Legislation in Washington

When Mohammad “Moody” Kassem, a third-year clinical student at St. George’s University, went to Washington, DC, for the American Clinical Congress’ Leadership and Advocacy Summit in April, he expected to play a supporting role in lobbying for the organization’s objectives. Instead, he found himself as one of the lead voices in the Surgical Workforce’s efforts to ensure the availability of general surgery where it most needed across the United States.

Mohammad-KassemMr. Kassem, who is currently rotating at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, visited the nation’s capitol from April 8-12. During that time, he and a team of ACS representatives met with a host of politicians on a variety of topics. Mr. Kassem headed his team’s presentation for the Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act of 2016. According to Mr. Kassem, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) designates funds and resources for its health professional shortage areas (HPSA), or underserved populations in the US, in the realms of dental medicine, mental health, and general medicine. Surgery, however, is not considered, yet the ACS argued that it should be based on the critical service it provides.

“We need to figure out what areas are short on surgeons, what is considered a surgical shortage, and work toward having funds allocated for the areas most in need,” Mr. Kassem said. “We also want to incentivize this program so physicians are encouraged to stay in these communities that are underserved and improve the quality of care and life of these patients. It would give them a better chance of living through a traumatic experience, and it would save money for the government because these are lawsuits that you can prevent.”

The Surgical Workforce throng, approximately 500 people in number, was divided into small groups. Each presented on the five initiatives on the ACS agenda. When it came time to present for his delegate team, Mr. Kassem, who was well versed on his assigned topic, was asked to lead the presentation despite being, by his estimation, the only medical student among the 500 Workforce representatives.

“After giving the first presentation, I felt good about it,” said Mr. Kassem, who is set to earn his Doctor of Medicine from SGU in 2017. “I loved the interaction with such influential leaders. The overall process was extremely interesting. Political leaders forgot about partisan views and reached across the political lines in order to work together and help their constituents. The experience pushed my drive to pursue politics even further.”

The Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act (H.R. 4959) gained the support of US Representatives Larry Bucshon (R-IN) and Ami Bera (D-CA), both of whom are physicians, and on April 15, they proposed the bill, which “would direct the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a study on the designation of Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).” Mr. Kassem expects the bill to be brought to the floor of the US Senate and House of Representatives, and if it passes there, it would be brought to the sitting US President to be signed into law.

The experience was a boon for him as he hopes to one day marry his two passions – medicine and politics. For four days, ACS physicians and administrators led demonstrations on leadership and advocacy topics ranging from how to handle stressful situations to how to propose and push a bill through political channels. It led up to the fifth and final day, during which its representatives lobbied with state politicians for their support.

Politics has long been in Mr. Kassem’s blood. He came to SGU after having earned his Bachelor of Science in biological sciences from Wright State University. There he heavily involved himself in student groups, including Director of International Affairs, as well as Student Affairs, for the Student Government Association. He was an active member of the SGA at SGU, while also serving as an Academic Enhancement Program Cohort leader, Footstep Buddy, human anatomy demonstrator, and biochemistry tutor.

“I’ve been involved in leadership organizations going back to middle school,” Mr. Kassem said. “I like coaching, teaching, and being taught. I would like to become a leader in politics, and I think the best path is to get started early, get to know many people, and move your way up.”

In addition to his lobbying experience in Washington, he met and networked with an array of politicians, who offered him guidance on how to launch his political career and balance it with his career in medicine. When he completes his MD, Mr. Kassem hopes to obtain a surgery or emergency medicine residency, and then explore fellowship opportunities in either the surgery or EM realm.

Of his experience in Washington, DC, Mr. Kassem said, “It allowed me to see the possibility of helping my patients beyond the individual level and instead through making a larger impact on patient care by advocating for better medical legislation and policy.”

– See more at: https://www.sgu.edu/news-events/2016/SGU-Medical-Student-Helps-Drive-General-Surgery-Legislation-in-Washington.html#sthash.H9NDV71l.dpuf

St. George’s Announces New Investments to Enhance Campus Infrastructure and Student Services

St. George’s University today announced it has committed significant capital to new initiatives that will enhance its campus infrastructure in Grenada, enhance the University’s knowledge creation capabilities, and add to the University’s world-class education programs and student support services. The new projects underway include:

  • Continuing the upgrading of student housing with a new student dormitory;
  • A new state-of-the-art athletic center for students and faculty;
  • Broadening the scope of SGU’s unique City Doctors Scholarship program for local and international students who commit to providing primary care in underserved areas;
  • Adding professional development programs for veterinary and medical students;
  • Enhancing the University’s research framework and capabilities;
  • Expanding international development and student recruitment activities; and
  • Continuing to attract additional new professors to add to our talented faculty.

Dr. G. Richard Olds, President and CEO of St. George’s University, said, “These new initiatives demonstrate our commitment to regularly investing in the services that students and faculty need to succeed. Also, by expanding our scholarships program, we are enhancing access to our world-class education programs for students who might not otherwise have such an opportunity. We are very pleased that we are continuing to attract bright, motivated students and teachers and that together we are helping alleviate the acute shortages of primary care doctors in the United States and elsewhere.”

campus nvestment

Published on 5/26/16

From SGU To WashU—SGU Alumnus Wins PhD Scholarship at Top Science Program

St. George’s University School of Arts and Sciences graduate Gervette Penny has been awarded a full PhD scholarship to Washington University, one of the top science and research institutions in the US. Ms. Penny, who is one of only 80 students selected, will begin her studies in August in molecular genetics and genomics, an area that draws over 1,200 applications each year to the St. Louis-based institution.

Gervette Penny

“While I am sad to leave the home that I have found at St. George’s University, I believe that God has blessed me with a life-changing opportunity, and I am excited to begin a new chapter in my pursuit of a career as a scientist,” she said.

Becoming a scientist and studying genetics has long been her dream. Ms. Penny’s pursuit began formally when she matriculated to SGU as a life sciences student in 2007. After graduating in 2010, she became a Supplemental Learning Demonstrator in theDepartment of Educational Services, where her main role has been to conduct collaborative review groups in molecular biology and microbiology, and assist with the training of student facilitators and clinical tutors. For her dedication, she was awarded the Student Government Association (SGA) Outstanding Faculty Award for Exceptional Contribution and Continued Support of Students in Spring 2015.

Ms. Penny strengthened her application to Washington by completing the Stanford Genetics and Genomics Certificate Program, where she learned about personal genomics, progress in cancer genetics studies, developments in stem cell therapeutics and advances in personalized medicine in October 2015.

Born and raised in Grenada, Ms. Penny believes that her experiences as a faculty member at SGU, including workshops, conferences, training sessions, lab research and poster presentations, have been important contributors to her success. After completing her PhD, she aspires to contribute to the advancement of genetics research in her home country and in the Caribbean. She looks forward to continuing her development as a science educator by investing in the lives of young students through teaching. It is her hope that sharing her story will inspire others to believe in their dreams and diligently work towards them.

Ms. Penny credits Dr. Pensick for his encouragement and support while completing the certificate, saying that “his interest in genomics and his continual efforts to promote development of faculty and staff has been outstanding.” She also praised the efforts of Drs. Glen Jacobs, Peter Slinger, Andrew Sobering, Kathryn Gibson, Svetlana Kotelnikova, Mary Maj, and Abboud Ghalayini for allowing her to participate in research projects, and providing mentoring, encouragement and assistance during the application process. She also thanks her undergraduate professors—Drs. Clare Morrall, Joanna Rayner, and Antonia MacDonald, and Mr. Teddy Ikolo —as well as her co-workers in DES and friends on campus for their continual support.

“I will take with me the experiences, friendships and skills that I have gathered on my journey,” Ms. Penny said.

Published on 5/19/16

St. George’s University Students Record 96 Percent Pass Rate On USMLE 1 in 2015

St. George’s University students continue to make the grade on the first major step on the way to becoming a practicing physician in the US – the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1. SGU students taking the exam for the first time in 2015 registered a 96 percent pass rate, a mark achieved by students from 45 countries. These students recorded an impressive mean score of 224.

USMLE Chart 2011-2015

“We congratulate these students on their individual success as well as their efforts collectively,” said Dr. Stephen Weitzman, Dean of St. George’s University School of Medicine. “Their aptitude on the USMLE 1 is a testament to their commitment to their studies and their future. In addition, we applaud our faculty and staff, who take great pride in preparing students with the knowledge and skills they need to develop into highly successful physicians.”

St. George’s University students from the United States and Canada who took the test for the first time posted a pass rate of 97 percent. The same category of test takers from US and Canadian medical schools registered a 96 percent pass rate, while students from US and Canadian osteopathic medical schools passed at a 93 percent clip.

The 2015 pass rate marked the fifth consecutive year that the University’s overall first-time pass rate on the exam surpassed 95 percent.

Designed to measure basic science knowledge, the USMLE Step 1 is comprised of more than 300 multiple-choice questions on topics ranging from the biology of cells and human development to the central nervous, musculoskeletal and endocrine systems, among others. A passing score on all three parts of the USMLE is required to practice medicine in the US.

Published on 4/27/16

Brandon University and St. George’s University Sign Education Agreement for Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

Students will have new options to get a degree in medicine or veterinary medicine, thanks to a new agreement between Brandon University (BU) and Saint George’s University.

(left to right) Brandon University President, Dr. Gervan Fearon, and Dr. P. Benjamin Robinson, Assistant Director of Admission – Canada, for St. George's University

(left to right) Brandon University President, Dr. Gervan Fearon, and Dr. P. Benjamin Robinson, Assistant Director of Admission – Canada, for St. George’s University


The two institutions today signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow students to obtain medical or veterinary degrees at Saint George’s, in Grenada, after taking either a three- or four-year pre-professional science degree at BU.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for students at Brandon University to broaden their cultural and geographic horizons while furthering their education,” said Acting Dean of the Faculty of Science Dr. Austin Gulliver. “There is very strong demand for physicians and veterinarians in Manitoba, and this agreement helps us educate Manitoba students to help meet that demand.”

Manitoba’s Labour Market Forecast predicts that there will be 1,300 job openings for physicians, dentists and veterinarians by 2021.

After two years at Saint George’s, medical students will take another two years in clinical rotation at affiliated hospitals in the Canada, the United States or the United Kingdom. Students of veterinary medicine will take three years at Saint George’s, followed by a year of clinical rotation at affiliated veterinary schools in Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, or Ireland.

”We are very excited to be announcing this agreement with Brandon University,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President and CEO of St. George’s University. “With the need for physicians and veterinarians on the rise in Canada – particularly in rural areas – we look forward to addressing this shortage by expanding the opportunities for BU students to receive a high-quality, international education here in Grenada.”

This new agreement builds on existing agreements that BU has for students to obtain a medical degree at the University of Manitoba, or a veterinary medicine degree at the University of Saskatchewan.

Brandon University President, Dr. GervanFearon, said that the new international agreement was a natural fit for the two institutions. “We are advancing our international activities at BU by increasing international student recruitment and providing our students with more opportunities for international experience,” Dr. Fearon said. “Today’s agreement reflects this broad internationalization theme at Brandon University.”

“In today’s world, it is important for students, citizens and universities to look globally for the best solutions,” he said. “Not only have we found a great partner in Saint George’s, but our partnership helps us supply solutions right here in Brandon and in Manitoba.”

Published on 4/21/16

St. George’s University Mourns Loss of Co-Founder Louis J. Modica

Louis Modica with SGU founders

It is with deep sadness that St. George’s University announces the passing of one of its founders, Louis J. Modica. Mr. Modica is the father of Chancellor Charles R. Modica, and a founding member of the University’s Board of Trustees. Mr. Modica was 92.

Mr. Modica shared his son’s vision of establishing an independent school of medicine in Grenada, and on July 23, 1976, they along with Patrick F. Adams and Edward McGowan formed the University’s first Board of Trustees. Their active involvement in the ensuing years assured its growth into an innovative and international center of higher education.

Louis ModicaMr. Modica’s guidance and support resulted in the principles that shape the University to this day, including its deep commitment to its host nation. For their contributions to St. George’s University, a newly constructed three-floor study hall on the True Blue campus was named Louis and Marion Modica Hall in their honor

Mr. Modica dedicated his life to developing real estate on Long Island, NY, most notably on its south shore, where he and his family lived since the 1950s. He was highly active in the Bay Shore community.

Mr. Modica is survived by his wife, Marion; children Charles, John, and Lorraine; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Visitation hours will be held at Chapey & Sons Funeral Home, 200 East Main Street, East Islip, NY, on Sunday, March 10 from 2-4:30 pm and 7-9:30 pm. A funeral mass will take place on Monday, April 11, at 10 am at St. Patrick Parish, 9 North Clinton Avenue, Bay Shore, NY.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Fund for the Orphans & Elderly in Grenada. Donations may be sent to University Support Services, C/O Jackie Alaimo, 3500 Sunrise Highway, Building 300, Great River, NY 11739.

Published on 4/6/16

St. George’s University and University Of Delaware Launch Medical, Veterinary Partnership

St. George’s University and the University of Delaware announced a new partnership which will enable qualified University of Delaware undergraduates to pursue advanced medical and veterinary degrees at St. George’s University in Grenada.

University of Delaware partnership hand shake

“We are thrilled to welcome the University of Delaware into our growing University community,” said Dr. G. Richard Olds, President and CEO of St. George’s University. “By further expanding our network of partners, we are continuing to provide a pathway for students from around the world to pursue medical and veterinary education.”

Upon receiving their bachelor’s degree, qualified students from the University of Delaware will have the option to pursue a degree in medicine or veterinary medicine at St. George’s University in Grenada. Students in St. George’s School of Medicine will complete their first two years of medical study in Grenada and their final two years in U.S. or U.K. clerkship programs. Those in the veterinary school will spend three years in Grenada before completing their final clinical year elsewhere.

University of Delaware partnership campus

The University of Delaware joins a diverse group of over 15 colleges and universities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada that have partnered with St. George’s University. The University also has similar partnerships with Mahidol University International College in Thailand and schools in Bermuda, Grenada, Hong Kong, Guyana, and Uganda.

“This agreement further enhances our relationship with St. George’s University and will provide our students with the opportunity to continue their journey to becoming professionals in the fields of medicine and veterinary medicine,” said Lynn Okagaki, UD deputy provost for academic affairs.

“We are pleased today to announce that the University of Delaware has entered into an agreement with St. George’s University in the West Indies that will expand opportunities for qualified UD students to pursue a career in medicine or veterinary medicine,” said David Barlow, director of the Center Premedical/Health Profession Studies. “It is designed for students who are certain that they want to become physicians or veterinarians and who desire a program of study that blends the scientific aspect of these professions in a highly diverse international setting.”

Published on 3/28/16

Newly Matched SGU Students Prepared to Strengthen Canadian Health Care

St. George’s University has long provided a pipeline for Canadian students to return to their home country to practice, and 2016 was no exception. Through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS), nine students matched with first-year residency positions in Canada and will begin their postgraduate training this summer.

SGU students will complete their postgraduate training in internal medicine, family medicine, and psychiatry at such programs as Queen’s University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Manitoba, the University of Ottawa, the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Toronto, and Western University. A second match iteration will take place in April.

“We congratulate those students who were selected to launch their medical careers in beautiful Canada,” said St. George’s University President and CEO G. Richard Olds. “We firmly believe that program directors at these institutions will find that these future SGU graduates have the knowledge, skills, and bedside manner needed to shine from the moment they begin as first-year residents.”

Having earned his Master of Science from the University of Toronto, Jason Lam was delighted to match into U of T’s orthopaedic surgery program. He bolstered his credentials leading up to the match by completing electives in Canada, and worked closely with his Canadian clinical advisor to steer his way to his top-choice program.

“It was absolutely surreal,” Mr. Lam said. “Being able to return home and to train in a field I’m immensely passionate about is a dream come true.

“St. George’s University provided me with a wealth of resources to allow me to be prepared for both my exams and clinical training,” he added. “The diversity of my clinical experiences throughout medical school makes me feel very prepared for residency. SGU undoubtedly provides students with solid basic science education and superb clinical training, along with the opportunity to match into even competitive residency programs.”

Paul Howatt matched in family medicine at Western University, his top choice in the field. He enrolled at SGU through the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP), for which students spend the first year of their medical education at Northumbria University before one basic sciences year in Grenada and two more in clinical rotations.

“Attending SGU was an excellent opportunity for training to be a doctor, and it was particularly good at preparing me for the US board exams,” Mr. Howatt said. “I had a blast living in England for my first year, with fantastic teaching from the instructors.”

More than 1,200 Canadians have graduated from the School of Medicine since it opened in 1977, and over 600 Canadian students are currently enrolled at the University. SGU’s Canadian medical students taking the United States Medical Licensing Examination for first time in 2015 registered a 97 percent pass rate and highly competitive 228 mean score.

Published on 3/20/16

Keith B. Taylor Global Scholar Students Receive Higher Education Diploma in Medical Sciences from Northumbria University

The 2016 graduands of St. George’s University’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP) took the next step toward obtaining their medical degrees, receiving  their Higher Education Diploma in Medical Sciences from University of Northumbria (NU) on February 13.

KBTGSP academic congregation outside Chancellory

In addressing the students at Bourne Lecture Hall on SGU’s True Blue Campus, Professor Kath McCourt, Executive Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor Elect of NU, admitted to being envious of the graduands and all of their first-time experiences as they begin their careers in medicine.  She stressed this ceremony was one of celebration of their hard work, the talent, and the determination they’ve shown during their studies.

“I believe your time with Northumbria University would have provided you with a firm foundation to build on, and I am confident it has shaped you as an individual, colored the choices you made, and opened your eyes to the difference you can make,” remarked Professor McCourt. “As you join our global community of 186,000 students in more than 167 countries worldwide, I hope it has shaped the career you would pursue and the life that you will live.”

Dr. Allen Pensick, Provost, St. George’s University called Dr. Keith B. Taylor a visionary, as he paid tribute to the man for whom the program was named. As Vice Chancellor, Dr. Taylor helped to transform the School of Medicine into a university with diversity of schools, programs, and students from all over the world.

KBTGSP academic congregation two students

“Unfortunately, Dr. Taylor passed away just two weeks before the charter class matriculated in January 2007, but I knew his vision for the program which bears his name and it must make him very pleased to know that all of you chose the KBT program,” recalled Dr. Pensick. “He also believed that, with the changes that were occurring in the world, the program you have undertaken would prepare you well for your careers as a physician.”

“Your firsthand experience as medical students in the wider sense of global health is unparalleled,” added Dr. Pensick. “The global community is going to be well served by your exposures to different health care systems, different cultures, and different ways in which the art of medicine is practiced. The skills you have learned will enable you to do a lot of good as you face the challenge of medicine in a changing world.”

Punctuating the momentous occasion, one by one the students crossed the stage and received their HE Diploma in recognition of successful completion of their first year of studies at the School of Applied Sciences at Northumbria University.

As part of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program, St. George’s University School of Medicine offers an option for medical students to complete the first year of the Basic Medical Sciences program on the campus of Northumbria University in the United Kingdom. Upon successful completion, students then continue their second year of the medical program in Grenada and conclude their medical education with two years of clinical training in one of our affiliated hospitals in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, or Grenada.

Published on 3/8/16